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Verantwortung für die Schöpfung

God’s Word in the Bible

by David Shenk

Introduction:    
The Bible – developed over a period of 2,000 years (oral and written) with numerous writers and very varied circumstances.  It is primarily the account of a people in pilgrimage (Israel) whom God called to be his covenant community and a light to all nations; they are the people through whom the Messiah and Savior is sent into the world; it describes the creation of the church.

The Quran – was recited during the 22 years of Muhammad’s prophetic work, and after his death collected into the form that we have today by his faithful followers. It is a book of teachings and instruction in regard to belief and practice for those who desire to submit to the will of God.  The Quran was written about 550 years after the last of the Biblical New Testament books were written and about 400 years after the canon of the New Testament was finalized.      

1 Quranic statements affirm trust in the Bible

(See the Attachment with references from the Quran in regard to the Bible.)

The Torah, Psalms and Gospel are revealed Books from God.

The Torah is the criterion of truth and the Gospel of the Messiah is good news. 

Christians are commanded to stand on their Scriptures and to make their Scriptures known and freely available.

Muhammad is commanded to go to those who have the former Scriptures for clarification about Quranic teachings.

Christians are warned not to corrupt their scriptures or to write and distribute false scriptures.   

2. Nevertheless, the Bible does not fit a Muslim understanding of
Scripture

2.1 A core problem is that there are apparently irreconcilable differences between the Quran and the Bible.  One of the most  significant differences, which is also a core theological divergence,is the Quranic denial of the crucifixion of Christ. 

The Quran states: That they said (in boast), ‘we killed Christ Jesus the Son of Mary, The Apostle of God’; but they killed him not, nor crucified him, but so he was made to appear to them, and those who differ therein are full of doubts, with no (certain) knowledge, but only conjecture to follow, for of a surety, they killed him not. (Nisaa 4:157)

Muslims often resolve that kind of tension between the Bible and the Quran by assuming that the Bible is corrupted.   

2.2 However, the divergence is much deeper than differences in regards to such facts. 

There are profound differences in the way that Christians view their Scriptures and Muslims understand their Scriptures. This is because the Quran and the Bible are very different kinds of books.          

A parallel comparison between a Biblical and Quranic understanding of Scripture is helpful. When we review these parallel understandings, it is evident that when Muslims and Christians speak with one another about their Scriptures, they often talk past each other, for they do not have the same understandings of what Scripture is in essence. 

Biblical: Scripture is revealed incarnationally
Quranic: Scripture is revealed as sent down (tanzil).

Biblical: God reveals himself in personal encounter.
Quran: God reveals his will through the prophets.

Biblical: Scripture is contingent revelation, that is human action affects God and his response to us. 
Quranic: Scripture is non-contingent revelation, that is human action does not affect God.

Biblical: Root events in history are at the center of Scriptural revelation.The core of Biblical revelation is the acts of God in history. These acts of God are, “root events that create an abiding astonishment.” (Emil Fackenheim)  
Quranic: Scriptural revelation transcends history; the allusions to historical events in the Quran are viewed as parables or illustrations, not the essence of revelation.   

Biblical: The prophets and Biblical writers are led by the Spirit of God to interpret the meaning of the acts of God.  So revelation is not only the acts of God, but the Spirit inspired interpretation of those acts. 
Quranic: The prophets through whom scripture is revealed are a mouthpiece through whom revelation comes. 

Biblical: Scripture also includes our story, the human response to the acts of God and the prophetic message.   Human rejection of God is part of the content of the Biblical accounts.
Quranic: Scripture is only the revealed “sent down” Word of God, any Scriptures   that includes the human story or response is, therefore, a corrupted Scripture.

Christian: Scriptures are translatable in the languages and idiom of people everywhere.
Muslim: The Quran is an “Arabic Quran”; it can be interpreted into other languages and idiom, but it is not Quran when translated into another language. 

Biblical: Scripture is dialogue – I thou encounter and response.
Quranic: Scripture is monologue – God sends down his guidance; we are commanded to submit to that guidance.

Biblical: “…The Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus.  All Scripture is God-breathed…” (2 Timothy 3:15,16)  (Inspired Scripture)
Quranic: The Scriptures are the guidance that God has sent down through the mediation of angels. (Revealed Scripture)

Gospel: The central event of the Scriptures is Jesus the Messiah.  He is the Word of God incarnate in human form. All Scripture finds its meaning and fullest interpretation in the light of Jesus the Anointed One.    
Islam: The Quran is the final revelation of God’s guidance for all humankind.  It summarizes and clarifies all the former scriptures.

Gospel: The message of the Bible is so astonishing that one can only receive and believe this good news when enlightened by the Holy Spirit.
Islam: The message of the Quran is so natural and logical that through rational thinking a person will be Muslim; in fact we are all born Muslim for Islam is fully in harmony with human nature.  

Conclusion:
Two statements from Muslim acquaintances as to how they experience the Bible in comparison to their experience of the Quran.   

1) In Islam the Quran is the supreme authority, and the Prophet Muhammad stands under that authority.  In the Gospel, Jesus the Messiah is the central event and authority and the Biblical Scriptures are understood and interpreted under his Lordship. (University of Nairobi, professor of Islam)

2) In Islam the Quran reveals universal guidance, principles, and truth. In the Bible, the specific event is the core of revelation.  The universal truths are developed and understood in light of the specific revelation events in history.  (Temple University, Doctoral Student in Islamics)  

David W. Shenk

October 8, 2002

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Selective References in the Quran in regard to the Bible

 

1.         God has revealed and former Scriptures.

He, (Allah) sent down the Law (Taurat of the Prophet Moses), and the Gospel (Injil of Jesus the Messiah) (Ali Imran 3:3).

For to them was entrusted the protection of God’s Book… (Maida 5:47).

O People of the Book, you have no ground to stand upon unless you stand fast by the Law (Taurat) and the Gospel (Injil) and all the revelation that has come to you from your Lord (Maida 5:71).

The writings of Moses are the furqanof truth (Anbiyaa 21:48) and Baqara 2:53).

It is also guidance, light, and mercy to humankind.  It is the Book of Allah (Maida 5:47; Hud 11:17; Anibiyaa 21:48).

No change can there be in the Words of God (Yunus 10:64).

In regard to the Gospel, the Quran states: Therein was guidance and light and confirmation of the law (Taurat) that had come before him (the Messiah) a guidance and an admonition (Maida 5:49).

The Quran also advises the Prophet Muhammad: if thou wert in doubt as to what we have revealed unto thee, then ask those who have been reading the Book from before thee…(Yunus 10:94).

Occasionally the Quran insists that God’s Word cannot be corrupted.  Here is an example of that kind of affirmation.  Rejected were the Apostles before thee; with patience and constancy they bore their rejection and their wrongs, until our aid did reach them; there is none that can alter the Words and Decrees of God (Anam 6:34).

 2.         The People of the Book must respect and protect their Scriptures.

There are also admonitions for the Christians not to corrupt their scriptures, not to hide their Scriptures or sell Scripture for a profit, and not to misquote the Scripture.

And remember, God took a Covenant from the People of the book, to make it known and clear to mankind, and not to hide it (Ali Imran 3:187).

There is among them a section that distorts the Book with their tongues; (As they read) you would think it is part of the Book, but it is not part of the Book, and they say, ‘That is from God,’ but it is not from God; it is they who tell a lie against God, and well they know it (Ali Imran (3:78).

Ye People of the Book!  Why do ye clothe with falsehood, and conceal the Truth, while ye have knowledge (Ali Imran 3:71).

Then woe to those who write the Book with their own hands, and then say: ‘this is from God,’ to traffic with it for a miserable price!  --Woe to them for what their hands do write and for the gain they make thereby (Baqara 2:79).

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